CARACAS – President Hugo Chavez announced Monday that he would write off the undisclosed sum Haiti owes Venezuela for oil as part of the ALBA bloc’s plans to help the impoverished Caribbean nation after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.
“Haiti has no debt with Venezuela, just the opposite: Venezuela has a historical debt with that nation, with that people for whom we feel not pity but rather admiration, and we share their faith, their hope,” Chavez said after the extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, or ALBA.
He also announced that ALBA has decided on a comprehensive plan that includes an immediate donation of $20 million to Haiti’s health sector, and a fund that, Chavez said, will be at least $100 million “for starters.”
Oil-rich Venezuela is the economic heart of ALBA, which also includes Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Haiti is among several countries that send observers to ALBA meetings.
Chavez said one part of ALBA assistance to Haiti would consist of fuel distribution via “mobile service stations” set to be up and running within a few weeks.
The ALBA plan of aid for Haiti includes support for such sectors as agriculture, production, food imports and distribution, and immigration amnesty for Haitians living illegally in the bloc’s member-states.
Cuba and Venezuela sent assistance and aid workers to Haiti within days of the magnitude-7.0 temblor that left an estimated 200,000 dead and 1.5 million people homeless.
The leftist Venezuelan leader also noted that there are some celebrities who want to work with ALBA, among whom he named actor Sean Penn, who, he said, called him because the members of a team of U.S. doctors now in Haiti want to “coordinate” their activities. EFE